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Published by David Carter on 2015/8/30 (675 reads)
Directed by Luigi Bazzoni
Review by David Carter

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Released by Blue Underground
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 1.0 DTS-HD Mono English or Italian/English, French, and Spanish Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Commentary, interviews with Franco Nero and Vittorio Storaro, Poster & Still Gallery
Trailer Online: Yes

An all-but-forgotten French writer with the fantastical name Prosper Merimee had a huge influence on Western art after his death. His 1845 novella Carmen became the inspiration for Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera of the same name. Therefore in a roundabout way, Merimee has had a large influence on cinema. Carmen (the opera) has been adapted for the screen numerous but many of these adaptations left audiences scratching their heads because they bore little resemblance to Bizet’s famous work. This is because they were actually adaptations of Merimee’s more obscure novella, which is more action/adventure than tragic love story.

Action, adventure, and 19th century Spain are a perfect setting for a spaghetti western, and in 1967 THE FIFTH CORD director Luigi Bazzoni turned Merimee’s third installment of Carmen into the film MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE, sometimes known as just PRIDE AND VENGEANCE or WITH DJANGO COMES DEATH! That latter title is due to the presence of Django himself, Franco Nero, in the starring role as Don Jose. Starring opposite him is TORSO star Tina Aumont and the legendary Klaus Kinski as Miguel. MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE is now available on Blu Ray from Blue Underground.

Soldier Don Jose meets the beautiful gypsy Carmen while she’s standing outside the garrison begging for work. She’s allowed in but her employment doesn’t last long – she stabs one of her coworkers during an argument. Jose is tasked with escorting Carmen to prison, but she works her feminine wiles on him and he inadvertently allows her to escape. Jose is imprisoned and demoted for his mistakes, developing a burning hatred for Carmen that quickly melts away when he sees her again, dancing at a party for military officers. Carmen spends the night with Jose as a way to repay him but refuses to fall in love with him because she foresees that it will end tragically. Jose falls for her just the same but proves her right when he murders an officer over her affections.

On the run, Carmen and Jose are forced to seek refuge with a mountain-dwelling group of gypsy bandits. The moral Jose is no bandit, but his love for Carmen and the promise of running away to America with her causes him to forget his opposition to crime. On the eve of the robbery that will give them enough money to run away together, an unexpected wrinkle appears in the form of Carmen’s husband, Miguel. Miguel doesn’t take kindly to Jose’s affections for his wife, but really bristles under the fact that Jose has replaced him as the leader of the bandits. The group pulls off a daring raid of a travelling Englishman’s gold, but pressures of escape and the love triangle sends the lives of Jose, Carmen, and Miguel on a collision course with disaster.

MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE is sharply divided down the middle and can almost be considered two films: the initial tragic romance between Jose and Carmen, and the more western aspects of the bandit gang. Both sections are handled well narratively but the transition is somewhat jarring. The film’s second half is certainly the more interesting of the two as it not only introduces some new characters but also adds depth to Jose and Carmen’s relationship. Fans expecting to see something more akin to DJANGO will be surprised – but perhaps not disappointed – with the film as Nero’s portrayal of Jose is more of a romantic lead than the action hero roles we’re accustomed to seeing him portray. Klaus Kinski is woefully underused but, as always, manages to steal each scene.

Blue Underground has released this film on a gorgeous Blu Ray. Director Bazzoni was clearly going for an epic scope with the film, and MAN features many breathtaking scenes of the Spanish countryside courtesy of Oscar winner Vittorio Storaro, who is interviewed as a bonus feature. Franco Nero is also interviewed talking about what is one of his most well-rounded performances. MAN, PRIDE AND VENGEANCE is unique take on a familiar tale and one of the more unique spaghetti westerns from the period.
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